A woman who was raised in the segregated South shares life lessons and reflects on American race relations in a debut epistolary memoir.
Taylor, who’s African-American, was born into the segregated community of Hallandale, Florida, in 1937, during the Great Depression. Her childhood was one of privation, set against the background of constant racial tension. She recently realized that her younger days still reflected a state of affairs that’s still current, so she felt compelled to publish her experiences for the record: “Elders have a responsibility to convey history to the next generation.” Her reminiscences are gathered here in a collection of annual Christmas letters, starting in 2007, which, instead of relating trivial family matters, compare current events to her own past. Most moving is her account of the 2008 presidential election, when she “held tight the memories of ancestors who sacrificed their lives and died unjustly too soon.” When Barack Obama won the presidency, the poignant significance of his victory for people of color sent chills through her; it was a high point in her life. However, even when she’s reflecting on painful childhood episodes, Taylor chooses to remain optimistic, as when she ends one reminiscence: “Enjoy every minute of every day. Be blessed.” Readers might expect that her experience as the target of racism and biased treatment would make Taylor cynical, yet she admonishes readers: “As long as we are alive, the possibility of change exists.” Overall, the debut author, who holds a master’s degree in counseling, has a promising storytelling style. Her message is moving and timely, as the country continues to face familiar conflicts. “This year history repeats itself,” she wrote in 2008. “Once again, there is an economic depression and to fix the economy, the new leader has to create changes the way President Roosevelt did.” Each letter offers hope that a new generation can prevent the same problems from happening a century hence.
An enlightening epistolary history of the Southern black experience.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)